An 18-year-old award-winning graffiti artist died after being Tasered by police in Florida, and friends and family want an explanation about what happened.
Israel Hernandez-Llach was already making his name in art circles in Miami Beach, said the Miami Herald
, but on the side, he was a graffiti artist working as “Reefa.”
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On Tuesday morning, the teenager was apparently painting an abandoned McDonald's when he was spotted by police officers, who chased him and used a Taser during a confrontation, the newspaper said.
Two of Hernandez-Llach’s friends were with him during the incident; one told a Herald reporter that police officers were high-fiving and offering congratulations after the incident while Hernandez-Llach lay on the ground.
Police said Hernandez-Llach ran when officers discovered him painting the property, and then later when they cornered the boy, he ran toward police and didn’t stop when ordered to do so, the Herald said.
The police chief said officers used the Taser to avoid a physical incident. After Hernandez-Llach was hit once with the Taser in the chest, they noticed he was “showing signs of distress,” and he was transported to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead, the Miami Herald said.
A fundraising site on GoForward.com, which was set up to raise money for Hernandez-Llach’s funeral
, said, “We are asking for donations to help the family pay for funeral costs. Our battle will be long but together we will fight hard to END POLICE BRUTALITY. Israel was an artist, sculptor, painter, writer, and photographer. At the ripe age of 18 he was already known in the Miami Beach art circles. His future was bright.”
Online, comments on the use of Tasers and police force abounded:
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